In 1996, the U.S. introduced the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) as part of the Personal Responsibility Work Reconciliation Act. This move from food stamp coupons to an electronic system was to cut costs and reduce fraud. All states have adopted this system, and today, you can enjoy free admission with EBT card in many places.
EBT, similar to a debit card, allows beneficiaries of programs like CalFresh and CalWORKs to access their benefits. Cardholders can shop online at stores like Safeway, Amazon, and Walmart. Plus, with the Museums for All initiative, over 1,000 museums offer free or discounted entry to EBT cardholders. Just show your EBT card and a photo ID.
Free admission with EBT card
1. Museum for All
Are you looking forward to enjoying free or discounted admission to over 1,200 museums across the United States? Museums for All is a good choice. It allows individuals receiving food assistance (SNAP benefits) to enjoy those benefits.
To find out which museums near you are participating in this initiative, you just need to visit the official Museums for All website and check through their search engine.
All you need to do is present your EBT card along with a photo ID. This program aims to make cultural experiences more accessible to everyone, regardless of their financial situation. You can search for participating museums by name or state on their website.
2. Culture Connected
EBT cardholders are offered an opportunity by Culture Connected to unlock discounted tickets to various NYC cultural institutions. Some of the participating institutions include the Alice Austen House, The Guggenheim, The Center For Fiction, the Museum of Chinese in America, the Brooklyn Museum, and many more. To get your discounted tickets, simply choose a participating institution and find the specific details under the “Ticketing” section. Culture Connected focuses on breaking down barriers that historically disenfranchised families face when trying to access the arts.
3. Shedd Aquarium
At the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, they are dedicated to providing community access opportunities. If you’re receiving food assistance (SNAP benefits), you can gain daily free or discounted admission by simply presenting your EBT card.
Note that this offer is not limited to Illinois residents; it’s available to all families receiving SNAP benefits in any US state. Up to four tickets can be reserved per order with the presentation of one EBT card. Many visitors of Shedd Aquarium have described the EBT benefit as a way to immerse oneself in the beauty of marine life without admission costs.
4. The Mystic Aquarium
In Connecticut, free general admission is offered to CT and RI SNAP EBT cardholders by The Mystic Aquarium. Not only can the cardholder enter for free, but they can also bring along up to three guests. Children aged 2 and under always have free admission and are not counted towards the three guests. Just remember to present your EBT card, a matching ID, and your admission tickets when you arrive. It’s recommended to reserve your tickets in advance as availability can be limited and tickets often sell out.
For those with an EBT card and a thirst for knowledge and exploration, there’s a place where science and art come alive. The Exploratorium offers a unique blend of interactive exhibits and immersive experiences.
To ensure that everyone has the opportunity to dive into these wonders, they provide four free admission tickets to individuals with an EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer), SF Medi-Cal, or SF CalFresh card. All you need to do is present your card along with a photo ID upon arrival at the ticketing counter. This initiative is part of the Museums for All program, a nationwide effort to make sure everyone can experience the best that museums have to offer. The Exploratorium also collaborates with various programs and organizations to offer additional free or reduced admission opportunities, ensuring that as many people as possible can benefit from their enriching exhibits.
6. Chicago Botanic Garden
In the heart of Illinois, the Chicago Botanic Garden offers a serene escape into nature’s beauty. They provide several free admission opportunities throughout the year. If you’re an Illinois resident, there are designated free admission days where you can experience the garden’s splendor. As part of the Museums for All program, anyone with a state-issued EBT card (known as a LINK card) or WIC card, along with anyone in their household, can enjoy free admission and free parking. Just present your card at the entry gatehouse and the entrance to the Visitor Center.
7. Pittsburgh Zoo
In Pittsburgh, guests who receive food assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can avail of a $3 general daytime Zoo admission per person. This is made possible by the Pittsburgh Zoo which offers a special Museums for All Discount to guests.
All you need to do is present your participating Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card and a matching photo ID. This discount allows up to 4 people to enter with one card, with each guest costing $3.
Children under 24 months are always free and are counted separately from the group of 4. It’s a great opportunity to witness the diverse wildlife and learn about various species.
8. Arizona Science Centre
In the vibrant city of Phoenix, the Arizona Science Center is a hub of curiosity and discovery. They have a special offer for those who are part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or TANF and are 18 years or older.
So, all you have to do is present a current EBT card and a valid photo ID during check-in, cardholders can receive general admission for just $3 per person. This offer extends to the cardholder and up to three other individuals.
Do not miss this wonderful opportunity to delve into the world of science and innovation without breaking the bank. However, this benefit is only valid during regular daytime hours and cannot be combined with other offers or discounts.
9. Audubon Nature Institute
The Audubon Community Connect program was launched by the Audubon Nature Institute. This is one of the initiatives that allow you free admission with EBT card. The acceptability is to increase accessibility to the Audubon Zoo, Aquarium, and Insectarium for Orleans Parish residents.
If you’re a Orleans Parish resident and a SNAP participant, you can enjoy complimentary admission for yourself and up to five individuals, as long as one of them is an adult, to any Audubon facility.
All you need is a valid government-issued photo ID that matches your SNAP card. It’s a fantastic way to connect with nature and learn about the diverse species that inhabit our world.
10. Houston Zoo
If you are in Texas and you are enrolled in the Lone Star program, the Houston Zoo has a special offer for you. By presenting your Lone Star card, you can get discounted zoo admission tickets.
Specifically, for just $9 per ticket, guests receiving Lone Star benefits can purchase up to two adult and three child tickets. It’s essential to note that these tickets must be reserved online, and they won’t be sold on-site. This offer allows you to immerse yourself in the wonders of wildlife at a fraction of the regular cost.
11. Adler Planetarium
Over in Chicago, the Adler Planetarium is a gateway to the universe. They proudly participate in the Museums for All initiative, aiming to make museums more accessible by removing financial barriers. If you qualify for state food assistance and have an EBT card (known in Illinois as a Link card) or a WIC ID, you’re eligible for a special rate. You and up to seven other guests can receive a Museum Entry +1 pass, which includes one show, for just $1 per person.
If you wish to upgrade for unlimited shows, it’s only $5 per guest. This offer is only available at the Adler Box Office, so make sure to present your card or ID upon arrival.
12. Orlando Science Centre
The “Science for All” program initiated by the Orlando Science Center was created so as to make science more accessible to everyone. This program offers reduced admission to those who qualify, ensuring that financial constraints don’t hinder the joy of exploration and learning.
The Orlando Science Center provides admission to people regardless of their financial status. EBT cardholders are given discounts to access the wonders of science.
13. John Ball Zoo
Up north in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the John Ball Zoo has introduced the JUMP program. This initiative aims to break down barriers to outdoor, nature-based education by offering free admission to qualified individuals across the state of Michigan.
The program was envisioned by Ruth Jones, a former John Ball Zoo board member, to make the zoo accessible to families regardless of income. Since its inception in 1998, the JUMP program has welcomed hundreds of thousands of families to the zoo. However, it’s worth noting that JUMP benefits are not applicable on certain event days like WGVU Kids Day or Zoo Goes Boo.
14. Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden
If you are a plant enthusiast and nature lover, the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden is a haven for you. They have a special offer for those participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), WIC, or those with an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card. You need to show your EBT along with a valid photo ID to receive free admission for up to four people.
Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden is part of the Museums for All program. So, they make sure that everyone has the chance to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of the garden. This benefit comes irrespective of your financial situation. You don’t need to register or pay with your EBT card; it’s simply for identification purposes.
15. Oregon Department of Human Services
Over on the West Coast, the Oregon Department of Human Services has introduced the Oregon Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) program. This initiative is a response to the COVID-19 pandemic and aims to support children whose access to quality food might have been impacted by the pandemic.
Starting from August 31, 2023, the Oregon Department of Human Services added a one-time benefit of $120 to the existing P-EBT card from Summer 2022 for all eligible students. The P-EBT is a collaboration between the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) and the Oregon Department of Education (ODE).
16. Children’s Museum of Manhattan
If you’re looking for a place where kids can learn, play, and explore, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan is an amazing destination and choice. They believe in making their exhibits and programs accessible to everyone, regardless of their financial situation.
For families with an EBT/SNAP card, the museum has partnered with the Museums for All initiative to provide free admission. This ensures that every child, regardless of their background, has the opportunity to experience the wonders of the museum.
All you need to do is visit the museum in person with a photo ID and your EBT/SNAP card to avail of this offer. The museum also collaborates with various other programs and agencies to offer discounted or free admission, ensuring that as many families as possible can benefit from their enriching exhibits.
Other Places to Enjoy Free EBT Card Benefits
Dine Out with Food Stamps
In states like Arizona, California, and Florida, you can use your food stamps at select fast food places, including Mcdonald’s and Burger King, thanks to the Restaurant Meals Program (RMP). Check the SNAP retail locator to see where you can use your EBT card.
Your EBT card isn’t just for food. It can get you discounts or even free tickets to various places. But that’s not all!
YMCA Membership Discounts
If you have an EBT card, you might be eligible for a discounted YMCA membership. Many YMCA branches offer special rates for low-income individuals and those on food stamps. Reach out to your local YMCA to find out more.
Bike Share Discounts
In some cities, your EBT card can help you travel. Join bike share programs like LYFT’s Reduced Fare Bike Share. If you’re a SNAP recipient, you can ride a Citi Bike for just $5 a month. Think of the savings!
Discounted Amazon Prime
Get a discount on Amazon Prime with your food stamps. Just choose SNAP, upload a photo of your EBT card, and enjoy all the Prime benefits, from free shipping to streaming.
With so many places offering free admission with EBT card, financial constraints cannot be a barrier to an enriching experience. Other than this list, many other institutions across the country recognize your EBT card. As I mentioned earlier, there are just over 1,200 museums that will either give you a discount or free access.
As you can see, the institutions that give the free services range from museums to zoos and botanical gardens, and beyond. Just make sure that you present your EBT card to be admitted into the venue. We can all agree that your EBT card gives you access to a bigger world of learning – and it can either be free or discounted.